Scientists in the UK have developed a 10-minute blood test for diagnosing diseases.

Scientists from the UK have developed a finger prick blood test which can detect proteins associated with many diseases, including Alzheimer’s and long Covid in just 10 minutes.

Andrew Shaw, chief executive of Attomarker (a spin-off from the University of Exeter), said that the company “is revolutionising the diagnostic technology and potential of big data” as he showed the new testing devices to the British Science Festival attendees in Exeter.

This technology has shown its first clinical results in diagnosing Long Covid by detecting six antibodies which showed that the Sars-Cov-2 Virus was still present in the body of a patient.

The technology is being developed for the detection of “biomarker” protein associated with female fertilty, food allergies, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and antimicrobial resistant, by separating bacterial and viral infections.

The technology currently runs on a laboratory benchtop instrument. It delivers results in seven to ten minutes. Next year, Attomarker plans to release a handheld device that will connect a diagnostic cartridge to a cell phone.

Shaw stated that the similarity between Attomarker, the fraudulent US blood-testing firm founded in the US by Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos “always comes to mind when I talk to investors.” We’ve demonstrated that our technology works, and they haven’t.”

He added that the scale of funding also differed. Attomarker, which has raised £4.5mn in the last year and hopes to raise an additional £3mn before 2023, is a far cry from Theranos’ $700mn investment and loss. A larger Series A round of funding will be followed in the next two year.

Attomarker uses gold nanoparticles that are printed on a sensor array. The nanoparticles are treated so that they bind to specific proteins. This array can detect up to 20 biomarkers in a sample of blood as small as 0.01ml. A routine hospital blood test requires a sample of 30ml.

The nanoparticles will scatter light in a pattern when illuminated below the array as blood flows across it. This pattern indicates the amount of biomarkers which have stuck to the surface.

Shaw identified three applications that he believed would have a great deal of commercial potential.

Next year, a device that can detect nine biomarkers linked to Alzheimer’s, including five variations of tau protein and 2 of beta amyloid, will be released.

A third is an “infection-chip” that tells if an infection with no specific symptoms is caused either by a virus or bacteria, both of which can be treated by antibiotics. The third can detect hormones linked to menopause and fertility.

Shaw estimated that the mobile device would cost around £300. Each test array or chip will cost between £10 to £20. He said that the first step in getting to market would be through private clinics, and then later on by the NHS.